Santa Anita: Betting against the favorites in the La Canada Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 7th, 2021

At first glance, Saturday’s $200,000 La Canada (G3) at Santa Anita looks like a race bound to be dominated by logical contenders.

Three of the seven fillies and mares entered in the 1 1/16-mile race are established Grade 1 or Group 1 winners. Three others have won stakes. And yet, the favorites might not be unbeatable at short prices.

#3 Fighting Mad was sharp during the summer, when she threw down 105+ Brisnet Speed ratings during back-to-back victories in the Santa Maria (G2) and Clement L. Hirsch (G1). But the frontrunning Bob Baffert trainee regressed in the Sept. 27 Zenyatta (G2), when she weakened to finish third.

Fighting Mad was then freshened and brings a solid series of workouts to her 2021 debut. Can she be trusted to produce a peak effort off the layoff?

#2 Hard Not to Love finished second in the Zenyatta, after she came home behind Fighting Mad in both the Santa Maria and Hirsch. The popular, one-eyed mare won the 2019 La Brea (G1) with a big late rally, but she hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since February of 2020 and is winless in four starts in races at a mile or farther. Shorter trips might be preferable for this daughter of Hard Spun.

The top two finishers from the Bayakoa (G3), #1 Proud Emma and #4 Message, are logical alternatives to the favorites, but if you really want to think outside the box, why not consider #7 Never Be Enough?

Trained by Manuel Badilla, the British-bred filly fired off a big effort in the 1 1/8-mile Robert J. Frankel (G3) over the Santa Anita turf course last month, when she rallied to finish second against a quality field.

The early pace of the Frankel was modest, which gave speed horses a tactical advantage. Nevertheless, Never Be Enough dashed the final furlong in approximately 11.67 seconds to finish less than a length behind Grade 1 winner Mucho Unusual.

Badilla wins at a 26% rate with runners who transition from turf to dirt, and the outside post in a field of seven will help Never Be Enough avoid kickback in her dirt debut.

Since the favorites have questions to answer, let’s take a shot betting Never Be Enough on top of all our tickets.

$20 to win on #7 Never Be Enough
$1 trifecta: 7 with 2,3 with 1,2,3,4,5 ($8)
$1 trifecta: 7 with 2,3 with 2,3 ($2)
Total: $30

Good luck!